Monday, May 27, 2013

My First Year at Johnson and Wales University


   My first year of college has been full of challenges but lots more of positive experiences. In this baking program I attend 4 sets of labs over 2 years along with a few sanitation courses and some general education courses in order to receive an associates degree in Baking and Pastry Arts. I am so excited and grateful to be able to learn from some great chefs, my favorite being Chef Marcia Kramer who teaches structure and proper standards for everything as well as efficiency in the kitchen. She is known for her difficult grading and she rarely gives As but she always explains what can be improved. I appreciate that she expects excellence from her students and I take her grading as a challenge to be the best student I can be. As students we are expected to demonstrate good teamwork, time management, excellent baking & plating skills, and food safety and sanitation skills.
    There is a strict attire for baking labs. We where chef whites free of wrinkles and stains (complete with a white coat, a white undershirt, loose checkered chef pants, comfortable black shoes, white crew socks, a white cap, colored collar, a name tag,and an apron). We also must be free of long nails, nail polish, facial hair, jewelery, and makeup. Everyday at the beginning of class we are inspected for this proper attire and hygiene.
    After inspections we watch a lecture facilitated by chef about our focus food. Then there is usually a quiz on the previous lecture or on baking conversions. In each lab there is a project or paper due on Day 8 or 9 of the course. Practicals are my absolute favorite part of labs. It's when each student individually produce a number of items learned in class to demonstrate our knowledge. Lastly we have a final written exam consisting of around 50 questions.
     To name some of the courses I've had so far, I completed Hot&Cold Desserts, Baking Fundamentals, Chocolates & Confections, Classic Pastry, Viennoisserie, Pies & Tarts, How Baking Works, and Cookies & Petit Fours. My favorite baking lab so far was How Baking Works in which we learned the purposes and affects of different ingredients in baked goods such as sugars, flours, leaveners, fats, and thickeners by testing different ratios of them in recipes everyday. We observed each of them by color, flavor, taste, volume, etc. Although tasting these items wasn't so fun, it was the best way to understand the purpose of each ingredient. This helped me test recipes and create new ones. 
   I'm now half way through my baking labs and I'm looking forward to the challenge of more advanced baking labs that will give me the title of pastry chef!!! 

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Gluten Free!

My mom has inspired me in both my academics and my personal habits. She has not only inspired me to be independent and self sufficient, but also to make desserts that she and many others with intolerance can eat! There are a lot of people (including me) that have special dietary needs. My mom, for example, is gluten and lactose intolerant while I am also lactose intolerant. So that has inspired me to do more than I would in a traditional bakery, and accommodate the people who usually skip dessert. 

Last weekend I made two semi- homemade gluten free desserts-- gluten & lactose free carrot cupcakes with toffuti cream cheese frosting, and gluten & lactose free chocolate chip cookies. Most people would be hesitant to try something that is labeled gluten free or lactose free, but I guarantee that these will satisfy anyone!

 Here is what I used to make these desserts:
Betty Crocker Gluten Free Cookie Mix- can be found in most grocery stores (be sure to use room temperature ingredients; an even- baking cookie sheet is optional but suggested; the chocolate chips are dairy free; for dairy free butter I used Earth Balance vegan buttery spread)

Simply Organic Carrot Cake Mix- also can be found in most grocery stores (be sure to use room temperature ingredients; freshly grated carrots add more flavor)

For Tofutti Cream Cheese Frosting I combined the recipe  and combined it with store bought gluten & dairy free frosting (Duncan Hines Classic Vanilla Frosting) for more thickness and flavor

Monday, July 25, 2011

High School Graduation!!

Hello Readers,
 On June 25th I took my last steps as a high school student off of the stage and to my chair. I had never felt so loved by anyone on any other day, because my entire family was there to cheer me on and take photos. I appreciated all of the support and love that I had that day and continue to have in my life from my mom especially. I was so proud to have achieved my diploma after four years of struggling, drama, identity crisis, and overall learning. 
For This Celebration I made two cakes...
1 Guaranteed moist gluten free carrot cake with toffuti cream cheese frosting, and    1  Homemade "peaches 'n cream" vanilla cake filled with vanilla mousse folded with fresh raspberries and peaches-- crumb coated evenly with homemade buttercream.

What I've learned...
This graduation cake is the first one that I've done independently. Although I am proud of what I did on my own, I think that I could improve my work in many ways. I know that in the future (when I get my degree in pastry arts) I will look back and laugh at the job that I did, and see the growth that I 've had since then. From doing this cake, I have learned that I need to give myself extra time to perfect everything. I would also have a concrete set of recipes that I know will turn out reliably, being that I had to make an extra batch of cake and switch from italian buttercream to basic buttercream. I also realize that there is never enough butter and eggs, I will need to buy extra of them on hand so I won't have to make multiple stops at the grocery store. Overall, I now know the time and comittment it takes to make a masterpiece.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Choco- macadamia nut cookies

Today I made the best cookies ever!!! Chocolate chip macadamia nut cookies... A friend bought all of the supplies so that I would bake them. It was a simple and delicious recipe to bake.

Find the recipe at: 

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Chocolate chip cookies

Over the past 2 weeks, my classmates have been asking for cookies. I decided to take that request as a chance to practice. I decided to make chocolate chip cookies which is a cookie that everyone would enjoy. They turned out deliciously. They were perfectly golden and sweet. I made about 2 dozen and they were gone within seconds of opening the container. Now I know to make no less than 50 cookies.

Recipe Tip: I used imported Irish cream butter (sold at Trader Joes), extra chocolate chips(preferrably Nestle brand), and a tad extra sugar in the dough making them extra good.

More cookies coming soon! 

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Winter Baking

I am bringing gluten free chocolate cake to school for my what San Diego Eats exhibition in environmental science. The project was to show the differences in what families eat. For my family, I wanted to emphasize our most significant difference-- gluten free foods, so I made this gluten free dessert. Baking seemed so much easier than it usually is. My baking skills seem to be improving, as proven by my cakes. It turned moist and fluffy. Unfortunately, the homemade frosting (which is usually a snap to make,) didn't turn out, so I used store-bought frosting.

I also made Snickerdoodles for the first time to celebrate Christmas with friends before winter break. I forgot to dip the dough in cinnamon and sugar the first time and they were overbaked. But the second batch turned out perfect.

Here are the recipes used:
(converted to 1/2 serving)

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Thanksgiving Cooking Lessons With Chef Julie

Today, I went to Chef Julie's Cooking Class and helped make a Thanksgiving Feast. The feast included:
  • Harvest salad
  • Stuffing w/ dried apricots, pistachios, & herbs
  • Apple cider brined turkey rubbed w/ herb butter
  • Pomegranate- cranberry glaze
  • Shaved brussel sprouts w/ shitake mushrooms & sage
  • Chocolate bourbon pecan pie